30 de janeiro de 2014

Michael Swanwick: "(...) there’s a lot more emphasis on good writing and a lot less on good ideas" (entrevista)

Na fantasia e na ficção científica contemporâneas o nome de Michael Swanwick merece destaque: com uma carreira literária iniciada nos anos 80 (o seu primeiro romance, In the Drift, data de 1985; antes disso, publicou ficção curta), conquistou os principais prémios do género em várias categorias ao longo dos anos. Stations of the Tide, de 1991, venceu o Prémio Nébula na categoria de "Best Novel"; a sua ficção curta conquistou vários Prémios Hugo e Nébula, um Prémio Theodore Sturgeon (em 1989, com The Edge of the World) e um Prémio World Fantasy (em 1996, com Radio Waves). Em entrevista a R. K. Troughton para o blogue da Amazing Stories, Swanwick fala sobre a sua carreira literária, sobre algumas das suas obras, sobre as diferenças entre escrever fantasia e ficção científica e sobre o estado da arte na ficção especulativa. Dois excertos:
R. K. Troughton / Amazing : Welcome to Amazing Stories, Michael. Much has been said about the changing face of science fiction. The amazing Gardner Dozois calls you one of the seven or eight writers of your generation that is shaping the evolution of science fiction. How do you view this evolution, and how do you see your role in it?
Michael Swanwick: Conventional wisdom is that science fiction and fantasy and horror are all melting together into a single form which might be called fantastika. I don’t believe that. I’m old enough to have seen fantasy separate itself from science fiction, much as steampunk is doing now. The evolution is outward, into a greater variety of forms. Simultaneously, there is no common center to the field anymore. When I started writing, science fiction was small enough that everybody had read a good selection of the same books, had opinions about the latest novels by the major writers, and subscribed to at least one of the magazines. That’s been lost, and it’s a pity.
What’s also a pity, though a less obvious one, is that there’s a lot more emphasis on good writing and a lot less on good ideas. Something you don’t hear much anymore but which was a commonplace when I started writing, is the statement that “Science fiction is the literature of ideas.” The improvement in literary standards is to be applauded. But as important as good writing is—and it is almost everything to me—a well-written story built around a strong idea will outlast a better-written story that’s just a retelling of an old classic.
When I was a teenager I dedicated my life to writing and, in my young hubris, decided that I was going to write highbrow literature that could be enjoyed by the most lowbrow reader. That’s what I’m still trying to do. I don’t see why I can’t have it all. I don’t see why everybody can’t have it all. 
RKT/AS: Genre fiction often tries to construct neatly organized boxes to contain everything. Where there is a story, there is someone standing over it placing it comfortably in a box. I picture all the box stuffers standing over your work pulling their hair out trying to find a box for your work. You liberally mix science fiction and fantasy with elements from so many other boxes and subgenres. How would you describe this masterful recombination you create in your fiction?
MS: The secret to ignoring boundaries is to have read so much fiction both in and out of genre that you know not only where the boundaries are but why they’re there. It doesn’t do a lot of good to combine fairies and spaceships, because the reader will find the combination jarring. But Ursula K. Le Guin’s “Semley’s Necklace” does a masterful job of retooling the fantasy trope of Elf Hill to a science fiction setting, and the world-building of her Earthsea books employs a lot of tools she learned from writing science fiction.
George Scithers used to say that rules are not made to be broken—rules are made to be understood. The same with boundaries. Once you know that, they have no power over you.
A entrevista completa é longa e interessante - e pode ser lida na íntegra no blogue da Amazing Stories.

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